Jaguar I-Pace: More than a pretty face
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Jaguar has hit the sweet spot when it comes to motoring as it launches the all-new I-Pace to the media in Europe this week.
It will be on sale in New Zealand later this year with prices and specifications to be announced closer to the sale date.
But Jaguar Land Rover NZ general manager Steve Kenchington says that already more than two dozen Kiwis have placed a deposit on the vehicle.
The Jaguar I-Pace is the first all-electric vehicle for the brand, and planning for it started four years ago.
Now, Jaguar realises the bet paid off as it sits in the sweetest spot when it comes to global car buyers.
According to a spokesman at the launch in Portugal: “There are two global opportunities at the moment, SUV and electric”.
In 2016, there were 1.3 million electric plug-in vehicles, but by 2020 there will be 24 million worldwide.
“So this is now is a great time for our first electric performance SUV,” said the spokesman.
Compact SUVs are also dominating the global market so add the two elements and you’ll have a certain winner for Jaguar.
The I-Pace also introduces a cutting edge new look.
“It’s a real moment in Jaguar history,” said the spokesman.
At the launch in the Algarve, Portugal, last weekend, Driven tested the First Edition and entry level S.
The I-Pace’s body structure weighs 2100kg and is 94 per cent aluminium, more than any Jaguar. There is a battery pack in the floor and two electric motors front and rear.
The battery pack contains 90kWh of lithium ion batteries with 432 battery pouch cells using nickel manganese cobalt. They combine to produce 294kW of power and 696Nm of torque, which is up to Supercars Championship standard. And that torque is impressive, as it goes from 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
The fully charged I-Pace will drive 480km. Those figures are EU-based, from Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) lab results.
In real world terms, that 480km figure is realistic, as we drove extensively around the Algarve, combining motorway speeds of 120km/h, inland mountain winding roads (up to 90km/h) and village speeds (50km/h) with more than 200km/h of driving.
The I-Pace sits between the E- and F-Pace when it comes to size, with the fully electric vehicle 4682mm long, 2139mm wide and 1565mm high.
It sits 130mm lower than the F-Pace with an impressive centre of gravity.
Boot space is 656 litres, with 27 litres of cargo room available in the front boot, or froot, as Jaguar calls it. Tesla calls this front storage a frunk (front trunk).
The froot is actually a narrow spot that you could, say, fit two wine bottles lengthwise.
But kudos goes to Jaguar for the design of this stunning looking SUV, which I think is the best looking for any premium brand.
The exterior look is futuristic with a cutting edge design, thanks in part for the need to create an aerodynamic vehicle so the use of vents for air to flow over the vehicle is inventive.
Although there is no need for a front grille as there is no engine to cool, Jaguar decided on a diamond inset grille that curved at the top, not only allowing for air to flow into it and out then of a vent on the bonnet, but also to create an eye-catching look.
The air flows over the roof before hitting a roof-mounted spoiler that Jaguar claims abolishes the need for a rear windscreen wiper.
Air is pushed over the spoiler and into vents, moving any moisture off the screen.
But I had a bet with the I-Pace’s project manager, Simon Patel, at the launch that by the time of the electric SUV’s facelift in three years, it will have a rear screen wiper.
The I-Pace has a large blind spot due to a narrow rear window and large C-pillars so any obstruction of this space is disruptive.
We faced rain for an hour during the first day’s drive programme, and needed that window cleared.
Patel said a decision about including the wiper would come from customer feedback. I think I’ll be collecting my bet next time I see him.
The floor battery and lack of front engine, means the cabin space is impressive, while the I-Pace gains a new 10in infotainment system and a smaller screen below it.
An impressive aspect is the regenerative braking, which when set on high, means you don’t have to use the brakes any time in your journey.
Instead, the moment you lift your foot off the accelerator it begins to brake, creating single pedal driving. And this works superbly, without the go-kart-like feel of other products.
To prove the sports car-like performance of the I-Pace, we headed out to the Portimao racetrack and after three laps in the Jaguar 2-litre F-Type coupe, we moved into the I-Pace.
The low centre of gravity means a more stable feel for an SUV, and cornering felt as if we were in a sports car, with our driver instructors encouraging us to push through the corners in the technically difficult race track.
The regenerative braking means that you could take your foot off the accelerator before the braking point and the engine was already slowing, adding to ability to move fast out of the corners.
On the straights, I could plant my foot flat on the ground and the I-Pace would hit over 200km/h with ease, tempered only by an upcoming corner.
So with the sports element ticked off, day two saw us take on a clay surface mountain off-roading loop in the entry level I-Pace S.
We hit a river crossing but it was an easy wade for the I-Pace. The next hill descent and climb had a few tight manoeuvres during the 20-minute route — conditions that were more technical, and rougher, than any owner will encounter. Proof that the I-Pace isn’t just a pretty face.
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